From stones to gendered bodies: regional differences in the production of the body and gender on the copper age statue-Menhirs of Northern Italy and the Swiss Valais

Article English OPEN
Harris, Susanna ; Hoffmann, Kerstin P. (2014)

Much research has been carried out on identifying gendered iconography on statue-menhirs, this paper seeks to develop this perspective by considering the broader body concepts. Body concepts are of interest to archaeologists because they are closely connected to issues of sex, gender and age. By investigating stone sculptures however, we are looking at an ideological view of the body that was produced by reducing the stone from its natural form into a statue-menhir. The presence of bodily features on the statue-menhirs suggests that it was important to construct a body, and that certain aspects of the body were chosen to be represented either through the size and shape of the stone or iconography, while others are neglected. We propose this is a significant means by which stones were made into bodies and gendered beings. To investigate body concepts we pose two questions: how is a statue-menhir body made? And how is it gendered? By following the reduction sequence of the stone as the technique of production we investigate which bodily features were important in constructing a body and in gendering it. We seek to do this through analyzing and comparing three regional examples of anthropomorphic statue-menhirs: 1) Lunigiana group A and B in northwestern Tuscany and Easternmost Liguria, 2) Atesino group in Trentino-Alto Adige and 3) Sion Type A and in the Swiss Valais, Switzerland and Aosta Style I in Aosta, northern Italy. Although there is a shared statue-menhir tradition in the three regions and beyond, the observations in this paper suggest that the bodily gender categories were negotiated regionally.
Share - Bookmark